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      A risk-based model of climate change threat: hazard, exposure, and vulnerability in the ecology of lichen epiphytes

      Botany

      Canadian Science Publishing

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          Approaching a state shift in Earth's biosphere.

          Localized ecological systems are known to shift abruptly and irreversibly from one state to another when they are forced across critical thresholds. Here we review evidence that the global ecosystem as a whole can react in the same way and is approaching a planetary-scale critical transition as a result of human influence. The plausibility of a planetary-scale 'tipping point' highlights the need to improve biological forecasting by detecting early warning signs of critical transitions on global as well as local scales, and by detecting feedbacks that promote such transitions. It is also necessary to address root causes of how humans are forcing biological changes.
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            Attributing physical and biological impacts to anthropogenic climate change.

            Significant changes in physical and biological systems are occurring on all continents and in most oceans, with a concentration of available data in Europe and North America. Most of these changes are in the direction expected with warming temperature. Here we show that these changes in natural systems since at least 1970 are occurring in regions of observed temperature increases, and that these temperature increases at continental scales cannot be explained by natural climate variations alone. Given the conclusions from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Fourth Assessment Report that most of the observed increase in global average temperatures since the mid-twentieth century is very likely to be due to the observed increase in anthropogenic greenhouse gas concentrations, and furthermore that it is likely that there has been significant anthropogenic warming over the past 50 years averaged over each continent except Antarctica, we conclude that anthropogenic climate change is having a significant impact on physical and biological systems globally and in some continents.
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              Climate change can cause spatial mismatch of trophically interacting species.

              Climate change is one of the most influential drivers of biodiversity. Species-specific differences in the reaction to climate change can become particularly important when interacting species are considered. Current studies have evidenced temporal mismatching of interacting species at single points in space, and recently two investigations showed that species interactions are relevant for their future ranges. However, so far we are not aware that the ranges of interacting species may become substantially spatially mismatched. We developed separate ecological-niche models for a monophagous butterfly (Boloria titania) and its larval host plant (Polygonum bistorta) based on monthly interpolated climate data, land-cover classes, and soil data at a 10'-grid resolution. We show that all of three chosen global-change scenarios, which cover a broad range of potential developments in demography, socio-economics, and technology during the 21st century from moderate to intermediate to maximum change, will result in a pronounced spatial mismatch between future niche spaces of these species. The butterfly may expand considerably its future range (by 124-258%) if the host plant has unlimited dispersal, but it could lose 52-75% of its current range if the host plant is not able to fill its projected ecological niche space, and 79-88% if the butterfly also is assumed to be highly dispersal limited. These findings strongly suggest that climate change has the potential to disrupt trophic interactions because co-occurring species do not necessarily react in a similar manner to global change, having important consequences at ecological and evolutionary time scales.
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                Author and article information

                Journal
                Botany
                Botany
                Canadian Science Publishing
                1916-2790
                1916-2804
                January 2013
                January 2013
                : 91
                : 1
                : 1-11
                Article
                10.1139/cjb-2012-0171
                © 2013

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